Large herbivores limit CO 2 uptake and suppress carbon cycle responses to warming in West Greenland

Sean M.P. Cahoon, Patrick F. Sullivan, Eric S Post, Jeffrey M. Welker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Changes in the terrestrial carbon cycle may ameliorate or exacerbate future climatic warming. Research on this topic has focused almost exclusively on abiotic drivers, whereas biotic factors, including trophic interactions, have received comparatively little attention. We quantified the singular and interactive effects of herbivore exclusion and simulated warming on ecosystem CO 2 exchange over two consecutive growing seasons in West Greenland. Exclusion of caribou and muskoxen over the past 8 years has led to dramatic increases in shrub cover, leaf area, ecosystem photosynthesis, and a nearly threefold increase in net C uptake. These responses were accentuated by warming, but only in the absence of herbivores. Carbon cycle responses to herbivore exclusion alone and combined with warming were driven by changes in gross ecosystem photosynthesis, as limited differences in ecosystem respiration were observed. Our results show that large herbivores can be of critical importance as mediators of arctic ecosystem responses to climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-479
Number of pages11
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

Fingerprint

Carbon Monoxide
carbon cycle
Ecosystems
herbivore
Carbon
warming
ecosystem
Photosynthesis
photosynthesis
ecosystem response
biotic factor
trophic interaction
leaf area
respiration
shrub
growing season
Climate change
climate change

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecology
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Cahoon, Sean M.P. ; Sullivan, Patrick F. ; Post, Eric S ; Welker, Jeffrey M. / Large herbivores limit CO 2 uptake and suppress carbon cycle responses to warming in West Greenland. In: Global Change Biology. 2012 ; Vol. 18, No. 2. pp. 469-479.
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Large herbivores limit CO 2 uptake and suppress carbon cycle responses to warming in West Greenland. / Cahoon, Sean M.P.; Sullivan, Patrick F.; Post, Eric S; Welker, Jeffrey M.

In: Global Change Biology, Vol. 18, No. 2, 01.02.2012, p. 469-479.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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